The alleged mastermind of the fraud syndicate in the John F. Kennedy Medical Center or JFK economic sabotage trial Mr. Patrick Konuwah has expressed several fears in court, as he sits in the courtroom and watches four of his alleged accomplices succumb to prosecution’s charges and granted plea bargaining.
One of his many fears raised so far is contained in a “strong objection” against sequestrating [or keeping selected jurors together] on grounds that they will “be placed under the full control of prosecution” and as a result, “a dictated verdict” may be brought down.
“… [The] Police who will be entrusted to man the Jury is also an employee of the Ministry of Justice; as a result, they may bring down a dictated verdict as we will not have the time at night to check places where the police will go to man the sequestrated Jury,” defendant Koniwah’s lawyer Cllr. Thompson Jargba said.
More than 15 persons have been accused and indicted by prosecution for allegedly diverting over L$16m and over US$126,000 of several insurance companies’ payments intended for the JFK Hospital into some bogus accounts created with names similar to the JFK Hospital for their personal uses.
Patrick was among eight individuals indicted, arrested and incarcerated before securing bonds, while the rest of the indictees have been on the run. Other indictees that are said to be at large include Boima J. Varney, Lathia Waleh, Central Bank of Liberia IT hardware department technician Prince Jallah and his wife, who was then Executive Secretary to JFK CEO Grace Dolly Jallah, John Freeman Kennedy, Ballah Holmes, and John Fred Kennedy.
But his counsel has gone to the point of accusing prosecution of carrying on selective justice in the case, claiming that one of the indictees Fahn F. Borbor “could” be one of the persons prosecution “do not want to try” for which he does not have lawyer and has gone far in the case.
Konuwah’s lawyer wants the court to order Lone Star Cell MTN’s call log for a specified contact number on which he claimed prosecution has been in communication with another indictee in person of Boakai Varney “who they said they cannot find.”
“Counsel further says co-defendant Jerry Morlu is in Town and again could be one of those selected by Prosecution to avoid trial; It is because of these and many others Your Honor, that Counsel for co-defendant Patrick Konuwah, is strongly objecting to the sequestration of Jury to try this case,” Cllr. Jargba said.
But excluding defendants James Ricks, Thomas Oliver Mezzah, Thomas G. Telewoyan and Benjamine Dargbe who have succumbed to prosecution’s charges, the prosecution said it nolle prosequoi defendant Jerry Morlu, while denying of being in contact with defendant Boakai Varney.
Defendant Benjamine Dargbe was on Tuesday, 7 June granted by court’s permission to change his earlier plea of “not guilty” to a “plea of guilty” so that he can engage prosecution for a plea bargaining, having chosen not to contest the crimes he has been charged.
In the request for plea bargaining, defendant Telewoyan unlike his colleagues insisted last week that he was not guilty of the crimes charged, but he paid “under protest” to clear his name. However, presiding Criminal Court “C” Judge Emery S. Paye did not agree with defendant Konuwah’s lawyer on a number of things, particularly his fears about the jury sequestration.
To allay defendant Konuwah’s fear and worries as to whether or not the jurors will not be tempered with by the prosecution, Judge Paye said “A trial Jury in a case is straightly under the watchful eye of the sheriff guided by this court.”
As such, the Judge said there should be no fear on the part of all concerned regarding the sequestration requested for. Surrounding defendant Konuwah’s concern that some of the defendants’ in whose favor prosecution had requested separate trial were here in Monrovia, Judge Paye clearly said the court is not clothed with any authority to find out the whereabouts of indicted persons that are not brought before its jurisdiction by way of arrest.
Meanwhile, the court has tabled jury selection and given defendant Fahn F. Borbor up to Thursday, 9 June to bring to court counsel of his choice to represent him, as failure on his part the court will request Public Defenders to represent his interest.
By Winston W. Parley-Editing by Jonathan Browne